Flagstaff Police Attack and Arrest San Francisco Peaks Marchers
Updated Monday, Aug. 8 at 7 pm
By Brenda Norrell
Photos: Navajo Klee Benally attacked and arrested by Flagstaff, Arizona, police. Photo by Youth of the Peaks.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Defenders of San Francisco Peaks were arrested during a peaceful march on Sunday and then locked down to halt pipeline construction on Monday at dawn. Native Americans and supporters are continuing their week of action to halt the Snowbowl Resort from the continued destruction of sacred San Francisco Peaks.
Protect the Peaks supporters locked down on Snowbowl Road on Monday, Aug. 8, at 5 am. Peaks defender and police liaision Rudy Preston was arrested at the scene Monday morning, followed by the arrests of eight persons who locked down. The majority of those arrested Monday morning remained in jail late Monday awaiting bail.
Alex Soto, O'odham, reporting from the lockdown, said that Flagstaff and Coconino County officers cut away the pipes to the barrels of concrete which the eight protesters were locked to with pipes. Construction was halted on the pipeline which could carry sewage water for snowmaking for tourists at the Snowbowl Ski Resort, on sacred San Francisco Peaks.
On Sunday, six people protecting San Francisco Peaks were targeted and arrested during a peaceful march for the protection of the Peaks. San Francisco Peaks defender Klee Benally, Navajo, was among those arrested.
In front of Macy's Coffeehouse on Sunday afternoon, undercover police infiltrated the hundred person march in an attempt to squash the growing anti-Snowbowl movement, marchers said.
The peaceful march by Native Americans and supporters was surrounded by police from the moment the march formed. One marcher said, "They were just waiting to pounce. And they did!"
The six arrested were released on bail late Sunday. Klee Benally said in a message on Twitter: "Just released from jail. Protect the peaks. The struggle continues."
Undaunted by the arrests, supporters protecting San Francisco Peaks continued with a planned protest outside the US Forest Service on Monday afternon.
Native Americans are struggling to defend sacred San Francisco Peaks from snow to be made from sewage water at the Snowbowl tourist resort on the Peaks. The mountains are sacred to 13 Native American Nations. Medicine men gather plants on the Peaks and hold traditional healing ceremonies on the Peaks.
Protect the Peaks said they will continue to resist the destruction of San Francisco Peaks.
Native Americans and other defenders of the Peaks said that more than one hundred people, including families with children and elders, marched through downtown Flagstaff on Sunday in protest of the destruction and desecration of the San Francisco Peaks by Arizona Snowbowl.
"Demonstrators first gathered at Wheeler Park where they were immediately ordered to leave the public park by the Flagstaff Police Department. As the march wound through downtown Flagstaff demonstrators were met with positive responses and support while dozens of police – many out of uniform -- harassed the demonstrators," Protect the Peaks said in a statement.
"Police cars drove alongside the marchers. As the protesters passed out flyers and carried banners through Flagstaff’s Southside, police violently disrupted the march, grabbing those who were closest to the street and arresting them. As six marchers were handcuffed, the remaining demonstrators continued to yell demands for an end to the Peaks’ destruction."
“As long as Arizona Snowbowl, the Obama Administration’s Forest Service and the City of Flagstaff continue this ecocide and cultural genocide, we will not stop,” said Klee Benally (Dine’), one of the arrested marchers. “We will pray, march, protest, and take whatever action is necessary to ensure that our basic human rights, dignity and environment are safeguarded. Today’s unjustified force from the Flagstaff Police Department demonstrates that they are not on the side of justice or healthy communities. The Forest Service and City of Flagstaff are on the side of corporate interests that are destroying our communities.”
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